(Note — our report from the final of five Subway Bowl games on Saturday between St. Thomas More and Terry Fox will appear here on Sunday)
VANCOUVER — Schematics and play-calling will never cease to be at the top of any list when it comes to last second execution on the football field.
On Saturday night, in a Subway Bowl semifinal game where defence seemed to be a rumour but one last stop was absolutely essential, New Westminster Hyacks’ coach Clint Uttley decided to dial up something completely different.
Having rallyied by scoring off a dramatic 40-yard reverse with 2:04 remaining to take a 52-45 lead, all that stood between the Hyacks holding on to beat the South Delta Sun Devils and make a first-ever championship finals appearance, was to get a stop on fourth-and-six.
“We told the kids to believe in the system,” said Uttley. “I didn’t call a play. I just told them to run our base coverage, but then I said that we would have a group hug.”
Hugs are free, and it turns out, priceless.
Defensive back Sebastien Reid, patrolling one sideline, batted a forced pass by Sun Devils’ quarterback Michael Calvert out of bounds and the celebration was on for the Hyacks.
Uttley, an assistant coach, had taken the reigns of the team in place of longtime head coach Farhan Lalji, who was unable to be with the team because of prior work commitments.
Clealry, Lalji was with the team in spirit, and Uttley said as much.
“Basically, the kids won it for him tonight,” said Uttley, the former McGill head coach. “He is the sole reason I am in New West. This was for Farhan. I wish he was here tonight.”
Saturday’s tilt left fans from both teams, officials and coaches breathless by the time the game clock had expired.
The game’s 97 points came in fits and flurries, and saw both teams make big basketball-type runs before Reid was able to cap the victory with his outstanding play on both sides of the ball.
After South Delta’s Billy Matwichyna had hauled in a 71-yard pass from quarterback Michael Calvert to pull within 32-22, Reid restored a two-touchdown lead when he caught a 35-yard strike from Kinsale Philip midway through the third quarter. The two-point convert by Sammy Sidhu made it 38-22, and Sidhu then scored on a 33-yard run to make it 44-22.
South Delta then put together a rally of its own with three straight scores.
Calvert’s nine-yard pass to Doug Jameson, Andrew Kraft’s 10-yard run, then Ben McDonald’s 30-yard catch set up by a Jacob Kirk interception, brought the Sun Devils all the way back at 45-44.
That set the stage for Reid’s score off the reverse. Reid then stepped up and played tight coverage on Calvert’s intended third- and fourth-down targets to end the game.
“Sebastien, when he is focused, is probably the best player in the province,” said Uttley. “He sealed it tonight. He was awesome on specials, on defence he batted four balls, and he scored two touchdowns.”
Calvert opened the scoring, rushing 52 yards out of punt formation.
New Westminster rallied when lineman Yanni Angelopoulos recovered a Sidhu fumble in the end zone.
Calvert went 56 yards to Jameson for a 16-8 South Delta lead.
Then the Hyacks scored three straight TDs before the break.
Lucas Sabau scored on a two-yard run, then Michael Kingsley made it 32-16 at the half when he scored on runs of five and 57 yards.
“We were down going into the second half and we were just hoping we could boost the kids back up,” said South Delta head coach Ray Moon. “We changed our defence around and we had a heart-to-heart. We knew it would be a slugfest and our kids left it all on the field.”
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